Three days after graduating high school at age 18, I realized I was done being controlled by my eating disorder I was so tired of being sick that I literally fell to my knees crying, and called my mom telling her I needed help. 10 years of anorexia and I could no longer do it, I was ready for help. I was very lucky to have the support of my parents, who worked hard to get me set up with a therapist. After seeing a therapist, she quite bluntly said, “you need treatment.”
Initially, those words terrified me, but something inside me said "trust her." And so, I did. Trusting her saved my life. I flew to Denver, Colorado where I went to a treatment center, and this is where I began my journey to recovery. I remember walking into the treatment facility where I’d be staying feeling scared, but determined.
I was very determined to work through my fear foods so I wrote down all of my fear foods and gave it to my dietician and said “let’s do this.” I wanted to tackle everything I could in treatment and that meant diving in head first and trusting my team.
I wanted to be free of my fear foods, and I wanted to challenge myself. For me the fear foods were a big deal and guess what?! I conquered every single one of them. By the time, I left treatment I had absolutely zero fear foods.
As my treatment progressed I soon let myself feel my feelings, I remember one night in particular where I could feel the insides of my heart shiver, ready to break, ready to burst. My eyes were ready to cry. And as my body began to tremble I found myself in a room with another young lady who listened to me cry, who sat with me, she told me it was safe to cry, to let myself feel and to let it all out. She shared her own recovery with me, the beautiful, the ugly, but most importantly the truth. I was able to see that recovery was real, that I could actually attain recovery because sitting beside me was the most beautiful woman who was in recovery. She was my proof, she fueled my soul, and scared my eating disorder and that my friends is a beautiful combination.
The young lady who sat in the room with me watched me fall apart and in the most beautiful way that a human being could fall apart. Because falling apart for me was letting go of all of the parts of my pain, secrets, and all of the feelings that I had denied and ignored. Falling apart meant that I was feeling and accepting each and every feeling that I had stored inside my beautiful soul
When it came for me to discharge I was scared and nervous but I also refused to ever go back to my eating disorder. Those very doors that opened when I first walked into treatment I was now skipping out filled with passion and a fierce feeling of freedom. The treatment center set me up with an amazing outpatient team who helped me adjust to living in a world that did not include the safety of being in treatment.
I am now over 8 years in recovery, I am able to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full; something that is called intuitive eating. I no longer hear the voice of my eating disorder, if it’s there it’s just a whisper, not a scream.
Written by Savannah Kerr
Emily Estes lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her Goldendoodle pup, Miss Adley Mae. Recovery from her own struggle with an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression has led Emily to create community and resources to empower others on the journey. Emily owns Sage Nutrition, LLC where she serves as a Registered Dietitian. Her work revolves around her motto that "food is meant to nourish our bodies, not nurture us."